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Caramel vs. Salted Caramel: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 6, 2023
Caramel is a sweet, brown confection made by heating sugar. Salted Caramel is caramel enhanced with salt, adding a savory flavor contrast.

Key Differences

Caramel is created by heating sugar until it breaks down and changes color, texture, and flavor. Salted caramel involves the addition of salt to the caramel, creating a balance of sweet and savory flavors.
The making of caramel is a process of caramelization, where sugar is heated to around 170°C. When creating salted caramel, the process is similar, but salt is added either during or after the caramelization process.
In terms of taste, caramel offers a purely sweet and rich flavor, often with a slightly bitter undertone. Salted caramel provides a complex flavor profile, where the saltiness enhances the sweet caramel taste and reduces bitterness.
Caramel is used in a variety of desserts, like candies, sauces, and toppings. Salted caramel has gained popularity for its unique flavor, used in gourmet desserts, ice creams, and as a flavoring in coffees.
Caramel is a classic and versatile sweetener, while salted caramel has become a trendy flavor, especially appreciated for its ability to balance sweetness in desserts and confectionaries.

Comparison Chart

Basic Composition

Heated sugar until it browns
Caramel with added salt

Flavor Profile

Sweet, rich, sometimes slightly bitter
Sweet and savory, with a more complex taste

Preparation Process

Caramelization of sugar
Same as caramel, with added salt

Popular Uses

Candies, sauces, dessert toppings
Gourmet desserts, ice creams, coffee flavoring

Taste Balance

Purely sweet
Sweetness balanced with savory saltiness

Caramel and Salted Caramel Definitions


Heated sugar used as a flavor or topping in desserts.
She drizzled caramel over the ice cream.

Salted Caramel

A trendy flavor combining classic caramel with salt.
These salted caramel macarons are a hit at parties.


A smooth, sometimes chewy, sweet substance.
These caramel candies are my favorite treat.

Salted Caramel

Sweet and salty confection used in modern desserts.
This salted caramel mocha is the perfect blend of flavors.


A sweet, golden to dark brown confection made from heated sugar.
I love the caramel filling in these chocolates.

Salted Caramel

Caramel seasoned with salt for a richer taste experience.
Salted caramel sauce is great for balancing sweetness.


A confection used in various sweet dishes and candies.
The caramel layer makes this dessert extra special.

Salted Caramel

A gourmet variant of caramel with a savory twist.
The salted caramel topping adds complexity to these cupcakes.


A flavor derived from the caramelization of sugar.
The caramel sauce added a rich flavor to the cake.

Salted Caramel

Caramel with added salt to enhance its sweet flavor.
Salted caramel ice cream is incredibly delicious.


A smooth chewy candy made with sugar, butter, cream or milk, and flavoring.


Burnt sugar, used for coloring and sweetening foods.


How is caramel made?

Caramel is made by melting sugar at a high temperature until it becomes a deep amber liquid.

What are the main ingredients in caramel?

Basic caramel is made from sugar, with options to add water, cream, butter, and vanilla for different variations.

Can caramel be used in baking?

Yes, caramel is widely used in baking for flavoring, fillings, toppings, and sauces.

What is caramel?

Caramel is a confection made by heating sugar until it changes color and develops a rich, sweet flavor.

Is caramel the same as toffee?

No, caramel is softer and chewier, while toffee is harder and more brittle. The cooking process and ingredients differ slightly.

Can caramel be vegan?

Yes, vegan caramel can be made using plant-based creams and butter substitutes.

Is caramel gluten-free?

Pure caramel, made only from sugar and cream or butter, is gluten-free. However, always check labels for additives.

How do you store caramel?

Caramel should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or refrigerated for longer shelf life.

What is salted caramel?

Salted caramel is a variation of caramel that includes sea salt, enhancing its sweet flavor with a savory contrast.

What is burnt caramel?

Burnt caramel refers to caramel cooked until it has a slightly bitter, more complex flavor, often used in desserts for a deeper taste.

Is caramel unhealthy?

Caramel is high in sugar and calories, so it should be consumed in moderation.

What kind of salt is used in salted caramel?

Coarse sea salt or fleur de sel is typically used in salted caramel for the best flavor and texture.

Can salted caramel be used in coffee?

Yes, salted caramel is a popular flavor in coffee drinks, adding a unique sweet and salty twist.

Is salted caramel a recent invention?

Salted caramel gained popularity in the 21st century, though the concept of combining sweet and salty flavors is much older.

Is salted caramel suitable for people with high blood pressure?

Those with high blood pressure should consume salted caramel in moderation due to its salt content.

What desserts use salted caramel?

Salted caramel is used in a variety of desserts like ice cream, cakes, cookies, and chocolates.

Can you make salted caramel sauce?

Yes, salted caramel sauce is a popular variation, often used as a topping for desserts.

Why is salted caramel so popular?

Salted caramel's popularity comes from the perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors, appealing to a wide range of palates.

How do you make salted caramel?

Salted caramel is made by adding sea salt to the traditional caramel recipe during or after the cooking process.

Does salted caramel contain more calories than regular caramel?

The calorie difference is minimal; the main difference is the addition of salt.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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